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VA Loans in Citrus County, Florida: Take Advantage of the Zero Down Payment

On Central Florida's west coast lies the scenic Citrus County, home to refreshing springs, enchanting marine animals, and colorful landscapes. Its rich historical culture and variety of water recreation, golfing, shops, and dining experience make it one of the most enjoyable counties on the west coast.

Thanks to year-round mild weather, you can explore this beautiful vacation site in many ways, from kayaking and snorkeling to bicycling. All these fantastic features make Citrus County an ideal place to call home. But achieving this dream can be pretty challenging if you're a veteran or active military service member.

For the past couple of years, veterans and military service members have experienced severe hurdles in homeownership.

Stagnant incomes and rising property prices have edged veterans out of the property market. But not all is lost. Through the VA home loan, veterans in Citrus County, FL, now have a shot at homeownership, thanks to the zero down payment.

So, how do you go about applying for this loan program? What exactly do you need, and how much can you get?

Read on to learn more about how you can take advantage of the zero-down payment to help you realize your homeownership dreams in Citrus County, Florida.

What Is a VA Loan?

VA loans are mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of VA (Veterans Affairs) exclusively for military borrowers to purchase and refinance homes with lenient credit requirements and no down payment. Understanding how VA loans work will help you determine whether they're suitable mortgage options for your home purchase or refinance plans.

Different Types of VA Loans

Many veterans and service members are surprised to hear how many home financing options VA loan benefits have. Not only can you buy a home with your VA loan benefit, but you can also take your home's equity, refinance into lower interest rates, and make energy-efficient upgrades.

VA Purchase Loans

VA purchase home loans are the most commonly used mortgage options by veterans. Service members, veterans, and surviving spouses use this loan to buy a new or existing primary residence without making down payments. These loans also allow eligible borrowers to purchase manufactured homes, condominiums, multi-unit properties, and single-family homes.

VA IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan)

Also known as VA streamline refinance, VA IRRRL loans are a perfect option for veterans who want to refinance out of adjustable-rate VA loans or lock into lower interest rates. What's more, you can also choose not to pay closing costs. Your lender may assist you in paying for these charges but in exchange for higher interest rates.

Remember that this loan is only available for service members and veterans with active VA loans. Your new loan rates should also be slightly lower than the previous one and limit the time it takes to recoup the charges.

VA Cash-Out Refinance

A VA cash-out refinance for service members and veterans who want to take equity out of their properties in return for cash. Veterans and service members can use this money to make home improvements, pay off debts, or in emergencies, VA loan holders can use this loan option to refinance non-VA mortgages.

To apply for VA cash-out refinance, you'll have to present a COE (Certificate of Eligibility) to your lender.

VA Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

Investing in energy-efficient and cost-effective upgrades at the onset of buying a home can ultimately minimize future heating, cooling, and other energy-related costs. VA Energy Efficient Mortgages are loan options that allow veteran homebuyers to minimize the cost of their utilities. This loan allows you to finance qualified energy-efficiency improvements into your loan.

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for VA loans in Citrus County, you must meet the minimum service requirements laid down by the Department of Veterans Affairs, satisfy your lender's credit and income requirements, and have a valid COE.

You may qualify for a VA loan by meeting either one or more of the following minimum service requirements:

  • You served at least 90 continuous days of active service during wartime

  • You served 181 days of active military service during peacetime

  • You've served in the National Guard or Reserve for 6 years

  • You're the spouse of a veteran or service member who died in the line of duty or due to a service-related disability

You can still qualify for a loan if you don't meet any of the basic service requirements for VA loans. In these cases, your eligibility will depend on the discharge type.

You may still be eligible for a VA loan if:

  • You were discharged for a hardship or due to a reduction in force

  • Your discharge was as a result of a service-connected disability or medical condition

  • You were discharged early out and worked for 21 months of a 2-year enlistment

Still unsure of your service status? It's wise to contact a VA lender in Citrus County, Florida and see where you stand.

Verifying Your VA Loan Eligibility Status

Many lenders need a COE to verify if you meet the minimum service requirements. Your lender can easily pull your certificate with only your date of birth and security number. For most veterans, this is a straightforward step.

In some cases, the entire process may be more complex. But the vital piece is that you don't need a COE before applying for a VA home loan.

The three ways you can obtain a COE include:

  • Applying through a VA-approved lender
  • Applying through the mail with VA Form 26-1880
  • Applying online through the eBenefits portal

According to the VA, roughly all COE requests are processed electronically, and approximately two-thirds get issued immediately.

VA Lender Requirements

While the VA typically determines the guidelines for loan eligibility, private lenders who usually finance homes have an additional set of requirements you must satisfy. Generally, these include sufficient reliable income to repay your loan, a credit score that meets your lender's credit requirements, and acceptable debt levels.

Credit and Income

While VA doesn't set minimum credit score requirements for loan eligibility, lenders typically do. That's why VA home loan credit score requirements vary significantly by the lender, with most lenders requiring a credit score of 620 to obtain financing.

Aside from credit score, the VA requires qualified borrowers to maintain a specific income left over every month after paying major expenses. The excess (residual income) should be just enough to cover everyday family needs like medical care, food, and transportation.

By enforcing these requirements, the VA increases your chances of earning sufficient income to meet your financial obligations and ensures you have a cushion during emergencies.

In addition to residual income, lenders in Citrus County consider your DTI (debt-to-income ratio). DTI and residual income give VA loan lenders a holistic look at a borrower's purchasing power and ability to qualify for VA loans.

How to Apply for VA Loans in Citrus County, Florida

Service members and veterans don't need to know if they qualify for VA loans to try and start the procedure. You'll generally get a good handle on your eligibility during the first step - VA loan pre-approval. Once you sign a home contract, the loan process typically takes 30 - 45 days.

Here's a look at the three simple steps to applying for VA loans:

  • Contact a lender - You first want to contact a certified VA lender to help start your loan application.

  • Verify eligibility - Next, obtain your COE on your own or through your lender.

  • Complete the application - Finalize the application process and submit all the necessary paperwork to your VA loan lender, including tax returns, W-2s, and additional financial information.

VA Loan Limits

The VA loan limit refers to the amount the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay your lender if you default on your loan.

Generally, eligible service members, survivors, and veterans with full entitlement no longer have loan limits on mortgages over $144,000. This means you don't have to make a down payment, and the department of VA guarantees to your lender that if you default on a mortgage over $144,000, they'll pay up to 25% of the total loan amount.

On the other hand, if you have remaining entitlement, your VA loan limit is based on your county's loan limit. So, if you default on your loan, the government will only pay your lender up to 25% of Citrus County's loan limit minus the amount of the entitlement you've already used.

You can use the remaining entitlement on its own or with a down payment to apply for another VA home loan.

The VA Funding Fee

This is a one-time payment that service members, survivors, or veterans pay on VA-backed or VA-direct home loans. The VA funding fee generally helps to lower the cost of VA loans for U.S. taxpayers as the loan program doesn't require monthly mortgage insurance or down payments.

If you're using a VA loan to build, buy, repair, or improve your property or to refinance a mortgage, you'll have to pay this fee unless you meet specific requirements. They include:

  • You're receiving compensation for a service-connected disability

  • You're eligible to receive compensation, but you're receiving active-duty or retirement pay instead

  • You're a surviving spouse of a veteran or a service member who was disabled or who died in service, and you're receiving DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation)

  • You're a service member who provides proof of having received the Purple Heart before the loan closing date

Note that you may qualify for a refund of the fee if you later receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability.

American flag and small modal house

Benefits of VA Loans

VA home loans are among the best mortgage alternatives for active military personnel, veterans, and surviving spouses. The power behind them comes from a handful of financial benefits not found in other mortgage types. Compared to different home loan options, these advantages are a big reason VA mortgage loan volume has grown markedly over the last 15 years.

Here are 3 of the most significant VA mortgage loan advantages.

Relaxed Credit Requirements

Because the Department of VA (Veterans Affairs) only oversees the home loan program but doesn't issue mortgages, the urgency doesn't enforce or set credit score minimums.

However, most lenders use credit score benchmarks to assess an eligible borrower's risk of default.

While credit score cutoffs can vary, the minimums are usually lower than what you need for conventional mortgages. As a veteran, you don't need anything near perfect credit to receive home financing at competitive rates. What's more, VA loans are more forgiving when bouncing back after a foreclosure, bankruptcy, or short sale.

Lifetime Benefits

One of the most widely-spread misconceptions about VA loans is that they're one-time benefits. If you qualify for a VA loan, you can use this loan program repeatedly, and its benefit never expires.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to settle your loan to use your benefit again. And, it's even possible to use more than one VA mortgage simultaneously, thanks to second-tier entitlement.

So, don't think that using your VA loan benefits years ago means that you can't qualify for a mortgage or that having a VA loan at your current duty station stops you from purchasing again with a VA mortgage.

Acceptable Income

Verifying income is a vital step in the VA home loan process. Lenders want to ensure prospective borrowers can comfortably afford their monthly mortgage payments. Lucky for you, many VA lenders often accept multiple forms of income.

Although wages and salaries are the most common forms, lenders consider the following modes of payment as sufficient income:

  • Disability pay
  • Basic allowance for housing
  • Retirement income

Aside from the payments mentioned above, other types of military income like hazard pay, imminent danger pay, subsistence and clothing allowances, overseas pay, and much more may also be counted.

Things to Do in Citrus County, Florida

Citrus County is a perfect getaway for a peaceful vacation with nature. It features many majestic springs, beautiful parks, wildlife, and numerous nature preserves.

The most-visited place here is Crystal River, with crystal clear water and springs that offer homage to a large population of manatees. Moreover, it offers various water activities, such as swimming, biking, hiking, fishing, and more.

Here are the top 5 things you can do in Citrus County.

View Freshwater Creatures at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Back in the early 1900s, this state park was a famous train station stop, where people often stopped to picnic as the trains were loaded with fish, cedar, and crabs. Today, this park serves as a home to wildlife of various kinds.

This state park provides homage to many captivating animals like red wolves, key deer, flamingoes, black bears, and more. For starters, it has an underwater observatory where you can walk underneath the spring and enjoy the scenic view of freshwater creatures, such as manatees and many other fish species. Plus, you'll be given an opportunity to have an up-close encounter with Citrus County's wildlife.

Attend the Citrus County Fair

As an annual event in the county, this fair features different exhibitions that showcase different local products and mirror the locals' day-to-day activities. It holds livestock shows, breeding beef, poultry, rodeos, farm produce, handicrafts, and more.

To make your experience even more enjoyable, they have unique rides, free attractions, music, and games. Plus, you can never get hungry here because a wide variety of food and drinks stalls are scattered all over the place.

See Beautiful Artifacts at Old Courthouse Heritage Museum

A historical tourist attraction site in Citrus County, Florida, Old Courthouse Heritage Museum is the place to be if you want to learn more about the county's prehistoric and pioneer days through exhibits and artifacts

While here, you can also view more recent collections and learn how the country's film industry and developments contributed to what the west coast and Central Florida, in general, have become. Another attraction site that may interest you is the old courtroom. This is where Elvis Presley filmed one of his best-selling movies, "Follow that Dream, " where many locals acted as extras.

Experience Primitive Camping at the Chassahowitzka River Campground

Looking for a place in Citrus County where you and your family can bond and spend time with nature? If so, you can't afford to miss all the fun activities Chassahowitzka River Campground offers.

This campground lies on a 5,677 acres piece of land and features hiking trails, creeks, springs, campsites, rivers, and more. It boasts 80 full-service camping grounds, which feature a primitive campsite where you can camp with your loved ones like the old days with no conveniences of modern appliances in hand. You can also engage in many activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, etc.

Dine at Old Mill Tavern Homosassa

Looking for a local eat where you and your kids can have a delicious meal without breaking the bank? Search no further than the Old Mill Tavern. A lovely restaurant located next to a historic state park, Old Mill Tavern boasts a rustic decorating style set in a cabin-style space with quirky sports decor and hanging string lights.

As for the menu, this place offers a wide variety of American grubs and beers. Some of its bestsellers include the baby back ribs and the chili cheese dogs. Also, the restaurant has live music and karaoke nights, adding to its entertainment value.

It's Time to Realize Your Homeownership Dreams in Citrus County, Florida

Are you looking to buy a home but don't have enough cash to fund all the transaction-related costs? VA home loans offer no down payment mortgages to military veterans and active service members living or working in Citrus County.

Contact your lender today for more information on VA loans and how to apply for them, depending on your situation.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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